Stow -- The restoration of the Mudbrook Stream is under way and should be completed in about a year.
"We began construction this year, in July," Assistant City Engineer Sheila Rayman told an audience of about 10 residents at a community project update meeting at City Hall Aug. 25.
Rayman said later that the project, including new tree plantings around the stream next spring, should be completed by mid-2017.
"It seems to be going very well. Hopefully, it will continue to be," she said.
The 2,400-foot-long project area is in a residential neighborhood north of Silver Lake Country Club and surrounded by Berkshire Road, Westminster Lane and Woodlake Boulevard.
"The area is under the ownership of the city of Stow, so it is public property," said Rayman.
The project is being funded with a $248,000 Ohio Environment Protection Agency grant. The city's additional $166,000 share includes $40,000 in funding and $126,000 for in-kind services, including survey and design work and an education component. Rayman said this would include public meetings and literature to provide the public with information about green solutions for flooding.
Enviroscience, a Stow-based firm that deals with a variety of environmental issues, is working with GPD Group, an Akron-based architectural, planning and engineering company, and RiverReach Construction, which specializes in such restoration projects.
Joel Bingham, restoration manager with Enviroscience, said the work is needed because the stream has been going through a process in which it has narrowed and deepened, cutting down into the ground with high, but eroding banks, and creating a danger that over the years, trees will fall into the stream. The project, he said, is to widen the water flow, making the water shallower, thereby reconnecting the stream with its surrounding flood plain and allowing water to spread out more.
"When you look at this stream, it could function a little bit better in its valley," he said, adding that the idea is to reduce the force of water flow to cut down on erosion.
"We're eliminating just about all of the erosion energy out of this stream by what we're doing," he said.
He said the project also includes stabilizing the bank with erosion control materials, such as wood and brush, which are also creating a habitat for fish and invertebrates, along with additional plantings. He also assured the residents that the work area would be restored with grass, trees and shrubbery.
"We want to make it as natural as possible and encourage tree growth," he said.
In addition, he said, the Summit County Department of Sanitary Sewer Services is working to maintain a sanitary sewer line that crosses the stream and was in danger of eroding.
"It could have sent raw sewage downstream, which isn't good for anyone," said Bingham.
Several residents said they believe the project would have been unnecessary if a large dam that was removed in 2012 had remained because it controlled water flow.
"I lived next to that for 30 years and quite frankly, I never saw it overflow," said resident Tom Knotek.
Rayman said the dam was removed two years before the city purchased the property after it was inspected by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and its then-private owner opted to demolish it, rather than make required repairs.
"We didn't have anything to do with that as a city," she said.
Bingham said dams can hold back water, but unlike the restoration project, which will need no maintenance, dams deteriorate over time without maintenance and periodically, dredging of sediments needs to be done.
"We can't put the dam back," he said. "The city doesn't want to take the liability. We're in a situation where someone handed us lemons and we're trying to make lemonade."
Bingham said a "test" that the work done already is doing what it is supposed to do was a recent storm that dropped about 2 inches of rain in 45 minutes.
"We went from a dry streambed to a raging torrent," he said.
After it was over, he went out and discovered what had been done to the stream banks had held up.
"It gave me a lot of confidence," he said.